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A New York City Department of Education employee “censored” a question about a book that disturbed parents called “Our Skin” during a town hall event last Monday.
Danyela Souza Egorov, the vice president of the Community Education Council, which represents a local district, told Fox News Digital that she was “shocked.”
“That has never happened to me,” Egorov said. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the country now that think those values, [of the] the open and honest debate [are not as important as whether]… some people are going to get uncomfortable and hurt… But I mean, we are adults.”
The book she asked about in the town hall was recommended in New York City’s Mosaic Independent Reading Collection and begins with an explanation of why discussions with young children about race are essential to fight against bias and stereotypes and continues on to claim that White people invented racism.
“Do you think whites invented racism? And if so, when? What century, roughly? At what age do a feel children should be introduced to such material without direct parental involvement?” Egorov asked.
Then, a DOE employee interrupted and said the “racially-charged question” must not be addressed. The employee works at the DOE’s Family and Community Empowerment (FACE) team, whose functions include fostering parents’ engagement in education. “The FACE team has staff members focused on parent empowerment… All team members help to amplify parent voices across the city,” the DOE’s website said about the program.
The DOE employee said, “Before you ask that question, I’d like to interject and say that this could be a racially-charged question and at this time you should be considering transitioning to community feedback or the candidates will leave the platform.”
Egorov protested the DOE employee’s move to dismiss the question. “This was a question that our community submitted … I think it’s important to have a public discussion. Some families think it’s racially charged to put this book in front of our kids.”
“I understand that … but at this time – respectfully – I’ll ask you to move to another question, or we transition,” the DOE employee said.
“I must protest. I’m sorry,” a public school parent named Chien Kwok, said, “I must protest what you were saying and not allowing this open and transparent discussion. What are you afraid of? We discussed this in an open manner, and it’s a fair question to ask because these are things that our parents are very concerned about… because some of these books, people feel that they disparage a certain group. And it’s not fair that’s being taught… that’s really teaching hate in schools.”
The book “Our Skin” asks readers to identify what skin colors they see at the playground and claims, “Racism can be an idea, like thinking only princesses have blonde hair.”
The DOE employee then suggested reframing the question to “what are your thoughts about culturally relevant curriculum?”
The other members protested again: “That’s not the question,” Kwok said.
“Nobody has concerns about culturally relevant curricula,” Egorov said. “Let’s keep on record that the DOE has censored a question very relevant to our community that we have discussed in our meetings. I just want to make sure that is on the record.”
Kwok then proceeded to demand “accountability” over where the decision was coming from. “I want to have some accountability for who is making this decision,” he said.
“Mr. Chinwa …,” the DOE employee said.
“No madam, it’s Kwok. Is it on your account that you’re making this decision?”
Fox News reached out to the DOE and the employee for comment but did not immediately receive a response.